American Exceptionalisms: From Winthrop to Winfrey

Overview

Wide ranging, interdisciplinary look at the emergence and persistence of the concept of American Exceptionalism in US culture and history.

An incisive and wide ranging look at a powerful force and myth in American culture and history, American Exceptionalisms reveals the centuries-old persistence of the notion that the United States is an exceptional nation, in being both an example to the world and exempt from the rules of international law. Scholars from North America and ...

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Overview

Wide ranging, interdisciplinary look at the emergence and persistence of the concept of American Exceptionalism in US culture and history.

An incisive and wide ranging look at a powerful force and myth in American culture and history, American Exceptionalisms reveals the centuries-old persistence of the notion that the United States is an exceptional nation, in being both an example to the world and exempt from the rules of international law. Scholars from North America and Europe trace versions of the rhetoric of exceptionalism through a multitude of historical, cultural, and political phenomena, from John Winthrop’s vision of the “cittie on a hill” and the Salem witch trials in the seventeenth century to The Blair Witch Project and Oprah Winfrey’s “Child Predator Watch List” in the twenty-first century. The first set of essays focus on constitutive historical moments in the development of the myth, rom early exploration narratives through political debates in the early republic to twentieth-century immigration debates. The latter essays address the role of exceptionalism in the “war on terror” and such cornerstones of modern popular culture such as the horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft, the songs of Steve Earle, and the Oprah Winfrey show.

Sylvia Söderlind is Associate Professor of English Language and Literature at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She is the author of Margin/Alias: Language and Colonization in Canadian and Québécois Fiction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991) and articles on American, Canadian and Québécois fiction, “ghostmodernism” and translation, and the politics of metaphor published in, among others, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, Ariel, Essays in Canadian Writing, Voix et images, RS/SI, New Feminism Review (Japan), ARTES (Sweden).

James Taylor Carson is Professor of History and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His scholarship focuses on the ethnohistory of native peoples in the American South, and he has published two books on the subject, Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999) and Making an Atlantic World: Circles, Paths, and Stories from the Colonial South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2007).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…quality essays that reflect the new willingness to challenge exceptionalist dogma.” — Journal of American History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781438435749
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 12/16/2011
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sylvia Söderlind is Associate Professor of English at Queen’s University in Canada. She is the author of Margin/Alias: Language and Colonization in Canadian and Québécois Fiction.

James Taylor Carson is Professor of History and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s University in Canada. He is the author of Making an Atlantic World: Circles, Paths, and Stories from the Colonial South and Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Introduction: The Shining of America Sylvia Söderlind 1

1 Witch-hunting: American Exceptionalism and Global Terrorism Deborah L. Madsen 15

2 Both East and West: Asia and the Origins of American Exceptionalism James J. Allegro 31

3 "The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind": American Universalism and Exceptionalism in the Early Republic Emily Garcia 51

4 Burlesquing America's Errand: Savage Satire in Irving's History of New York and Melville's The Confidence-Man Matthew Brophy 71

5 Exclusion Acts: How Popular Westerns Brokered the Atlantic Diaspora Christine Bold 93

6 America as "World-Salvation": Josiah Strong, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the Global Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism Nathaniel Cadle 125

7 American Exceptionalism and Immigration Debates in the Modern United States Carl J. Bon Tempo 147

8 Giving the People What They Want: The African American Exception as Racial Cliché in Percival Everett's Erasure Anthony Stewart 167

9 "Just an American Boy": American Exceptionalism and Steve Earle versus Capital Punishment Roxanne Harde 191

10 Oprah's Vigilante Sentimentalism Sara Humphreys 207

11 The City under the Hill: Allegorical Tradition and H. P. Lovecraft's America Matthew Strohack 223

Afterword: American Exceptionalism in American Intellectual Conversation, or How I Finally Submitted to Literary Criticism Terri Baker 243

Notes on Contributors 255

Index 259

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